AN: If there is not at least a little sad in this for you, I fail as an author.
August 18th, 3028.
System XXLI, near Terra.
Hulk of the CSS Calvin Joliet, Landing Bay One.
Melissa stared down at the deck of the landing bay, not really seeing the warped and damaged LAM's littered about. There were only twenty-three of them, and Isaiah Ivo's was not amongst them. Nor was he one of the pilots who had survived the destruction of his craft.
He was dead.
Melissa had come to know death, just a year before, at The Rock, and those deaths still haunted her, but none of them had been personal like this. From the very first time they met, Isaiah had been a comfort and security for her, both emotionally and physically; their very meeting had been motivated by his concern for her, before he even knew her.
And now he was dead.
Melissa had never known her father. He had died of cancer just weeks after her birth, and she had no living memories of him. Her mother had never become romantically involved in another man, much less married, and Melissa had grown up, in essence, without a father of any sort. Until Isaiah Ivo showed up and inserted himself into the role without even being asked.
And now he was dead.
Part of Melissa felt like focusing on just the one death made her a terrible person; thousands of the Calvin Joliet's crew had died, most of them civilians, hundreds of other pilots had died, Comstar's first fleet had been all but exterminated, and the second had taken thousands of casualties before they admitted just how much the Caph fleet outmatched them. Janos Marik had been killed in the nuclear attack, his ancient body unable to handle the stress; Romano Liao had been shot through the head by her sister's lover. The bodyguards of both had been cut down, and taken more than a few CTA guards with them.
But Melissa had not known those people.
More people were going to die, thousands at a minimum, perhaps millions in total. The invasion of the Capellan Confederation was commencing at that very moment, Caph was preparing itself to make war upon the Capellans, the Free Worlds League, and Comstar, all at the same time. The Capellans, in particular, were in for it; Maximillian Liao had sent the major strength of his Death Commandos on an infiltration/assault mission to attempt the seizure of the Star Metal, the Calvin Joliet-class ship that had been doing business within his realm. It had failed, of course, Case Plaid authorizing the Industrial Ship to use her heavier armaments, and the Dropships carrying the Death Commandos had been destroyed before boarding action could even begin. Duke Gustafson, and Amanda Ivo, for that matter, had declared that the Capellan Confederation would cease to exist by war's end.
Melissa was crying now though, not because of the thousands who had died, or the possible millions who would die, but because one man had died, one man who was important to her.
She couldn't really bring herself to feel ashamed for that, as she wept quietly and watched the techies work the landing-bay floor.
August 18th, 3028.
System XXLI, near Terra.
Hulk of the CSS Calvin Joliet, Bridge.
"More than thirty-thousand injured or dead," Claire listed, "Half the industrial hardware out of commission, a quarter of it permanently, the Jump Core will need to be completely replaced, and it'd be cheaper to fabricate a new hull from scratch at this point."
"The Calvin," Amanda said sadly, "She won't be flying again. I don't think Junior will take this well."
"I don't think anyone will take this well," Claire said, "Except for Cameron. He has a list of upgrades to incorporate into the next design, from the keel up. He's pretty pissed off about all the casualties though. I know I am."
"I'm not too happy about that myself," Amanda said, kicking off from the nearest bulkhead towards her granddaughter, "Honestly though, my heart is more concerned about those who will suffer in the war to come."
"It's not like we're going to lose," Claire said somewhat harshly.
"No," Amanda said, "With the Suns and the Lyrans on our side, and the Combine sitting it out, it'd more or less take an act of God to make us lose this war. I'm not worried about the people of Caph suffering. I'm worried about the Capellans."
"I rather assume you don't mean Mad Max and his sycophants," Claire said flatly.
"Hardly," Amanda said with a snort, "You know though, that many of the Capellan nobles are going to expect suicidal loyalty from their subjects, and will be perfectly willing to pit militia with small arms against Battlemech regiments, if they think it will give them a chance at victory. There could be a lot of death before this ends."
"Then stop complaining about it, granny," Claire said, "And get the Duke to put you in charge of the damn thing. By this point, I expect Melissa would badger Hanse into giving you overall strategic control, and I bet dad can get the Taurians to come in on the action as well, some of their old worlds are still under the Capellan flag, after all."
"Stop helping," Amanda grumped, "We can start working on fixing things later. For now I want to soak in the unhappies, so it will be out of the way later."
August 19th, 3028
System XXLI, near Terra
Aboard CSS Heavy Metal, Jotun-class Battlecruiser.
"I must say," Duke Gustafson said as he shook hands with Theodore Kurita, "I did not expect to find myself grateful to a Kurita, much less indebted to one, until long after Takashi Kurita was dead and gone."
"It is my honor to surprise you then," Theodore said formally, offering the ruler of Caph a small bow, which was returned with some interest, "I hope that whatever the Combine has done to earn Caph's ire, may be ameliorated by our more recent conduct."
"Caph, you say?" Gustafson asked curiously, "Not Caffeine?"
Theodore just smiled.
"Sharp," Gustafson said with a smirk, "Hanse figured it out last year, but he had the advantage of seeing one of our people react to the name being mentioned as a potential host site for the wedding."
He gestured for Theodore and his aide to take a seat in the small conference room they occupied, and then seated himself, a single armored figure standing behind him.
"I am, you could say," Theodore said, "A student of history. I understand that there was something of an affair between our nations involving a trio of Scout Jumpships, and a Land-Air-Mech factory some hundred and twenty years ago."
"Indeed," Gustafson said, raising an eyebrow, "We have been keeping track of the character of the various Coordinators since that event, and none of them have been very encouraging to the concept of establishing diplomatic relations."
"My father," Theodore said calmly, "And most of his predecessors, do not understand that the other people's of mankind neither subscribe to our way of life, nor wish to. It is the unfortunate hubris of too many of the nobility to believe that all peoples instinctively desire to bend knee to them; they fail to understand that true leadership is service, not domination."
Gustafson leaned back in his seat, and eyed Theodore critically; the heir to the Dragon Throne was entirely calm and composed, the very image of the Noble Samurai. With some degree of surprise, Gustafson found that the image actually fit the man, as near to perfection as he was capable of perceiving.
I suppose, he silently mused, Every century so, one who actually fits the ideal of the Samurai will come along.
"Caph pays her debts," Gustafson said, "And now that Comstar has played its hand, there is no need for us to remain in hiding any longer. What would you desire from us, in repayment for your defense of our people?"
"The Combine cannot afford to be left behind as the Inner Sphere modernizes," Theodore said, "I would be greatly obliged if you would send one of your Industrial Ships to conduct trade within our realm."
"Is that all?" Gustafson said with a grin, "I'll go you one better, I'll send you two."
August 20th, 3028: Accords are reached between Caph, the Lyran Commonwealth, and the Federated Suns, regarding joint assault upon the Free World's League and the Capellan Confederation. Terms include non-aggression on the part of the Commonwealth and Suns towards the Draconis Combine, and Caph sending two Industrial Ships to begin renovating the Combine's economy. A further offer of a mutual defense pact when Theodore Kurita takes the throne begins applying political pressure to Takashi Kurita.
August 21st, 3028: Comstar initiates an impromptu interdiction of the Lyran Commonwealth, Draconis Combine, and Federated Suns. The Interdiction is of limited success, as all Comstar facilities in said states are seized, roughly forty percent with the HPG's intact. CCI receives numerous lucrative contracts to restore communications as swiftly as possible.
August 22nd, 3028: Caph secures Taurian support for the invasion of the Capellan Confederation.
August 23rd, 3028: First invasion wave from the Federated Suns strikes the Capellan Confederation.
August 25th, 3028: Caph secures support from the Magistracy of Canopus for the invasion of the Capellan Confederation.
January, 3029: The majority of the Caph Navy strikes Terra, including 5 Battlecruisers, nearly forty Frigates, and over five thousand LAM's. The remnants of Comstar's fleet flees with a number of high-ranking Comstar personnel, while the Caph Navy cleans up what automated system defenses have been activated. Precentor Sharilar Mori formally surrenders Terra to Caph before the fleet even reaches Terra orbit.
February, 3029: The full weight of Caph, the Federated Suns, the Lyran Commonwealth, the Magistracy of Canopus, and the Taurian Concordat comes down upon the Capellan Confederation and Free Worlds League. The League, in the middle of succession, fares poorly against the moderate forces directed its way, while the Capellan Confederation begins to be systematically crushed by overwhelming numerical superiority, and often technological superiority, on every front.
March, 3029, Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner engage in a shotgun wedding, Hanse citing that 'this way, no time for scheming.' This goes down in the history books as the beginning of a tradition.
April, 3029: The last mercenary unit serving House Liao breaks contract to escape the Capellan Confederation. The Northwind Highlanders are granted safe passage to and dominion over Northwind in exchange for remanding Tikonov to the joint control of Caph and the Federated Suns in good order.
May, 3029: The second invasion wave initiates; Thomas Marik has by this time managed to take control of the Free Worlds League, and is reasonably successful in repelling further incursions into the League. Capella is captured, Maximillian Liao commits a spectacular suicide, detonating a bomb that destroys the entire Celestial Palace, as well as nearly a Batallion of Caph and Suns LAM's.
July, 3029: The Capellan Confederation functionally ceases to exist when the Free Worlds League attacks its final flank, snapping up a handful of worlds while negotiating peace with the Sphere's other powers.
August, 3029: The Fourth Succession War ends. It has been the briefest, and most decisive of all the Succession Wars, for all parties involved. The end of the war does not see a return of Caph merchant and industrial vessels to the League, the CTA's efforts instead focusing on Caph's 17 new worlds from the Capellan Confederation, Terra, and the Draconis Combine. The Taurian Concordat enters into negotiations with the Federated Suns to hold plebiscites on Suns worlds that historically belonged to the Concordat, in exchange for turning over an equivalent number of newly-captured worlds from the Capellan Confederation.
October, 3029: The plebiscites surprise all interested parties throughout the Inner Sphere (for different reasons), when three worlds abandon the Federated Suns in favor of the Concordat. Protector Calderon turns his attention to integrating these worlds into the Concordat's more advanced technological infrastructure, and the Concordat's developing colonial program.
January, 3030,: Peace, such as it is, settles over mankind in the sphere at large, as Caph begin releasing its medical technology throughout, and permits FWL vessels to enter its territory to trade, though still refuses to send its own vessels within League borders. The various nations focus upon modernizing and advancing their economies, industrial base, and militaries.
AN: Originally, I'd hoped that some more interest in this would spark, and I'd expand this epilogue a bit more. No dice. Still, I wanted to put this up before the end of the year, so here it is.